Author: Cyril Richert
With the recent publishing of the safeguarded route for the Crossrail 2 lines, Wandsworth Council finds himself at odds with its plans to construct a cluster of tall building on Grant Road/Bramlands Close: this is actually the site reserved by Network Rail to implement the Cross Rail entrance at Clapham Junction.
John Stone (Head of Forward Planning and Transportation, Wandsworth Council) submitted a response to the consultation in February 2015 and wrote:
The larger Bramlands site is predominantly owned by the Council although there are a number of other ownerships including Network Rail. There are current proposals for the redevelopment of this site as part of the Council’s master plan for the improvement of the Winstanley and York Road Estates and immediate surrounding area. It is also part of an application for Housing Zone status, which is being considered by the Greater London Authority that is intended to accelerate housing development with this being a key site in viability terms. Proposals for this area include the relocation of the bus stand and the construction of a mixed use development including tall buildings in excess of 9 storeys. Network Rail also has proposals for improving and reletting the railway arches to the south of Grant Road. The Council is concerned that once the safeguarding is issued, TfL would not allow these proposed developments to proceed.
Over the past 18 months, the Council has worked up a Masterplan for the development at Winstanley & York Road Estates. The Masterplan has involved extensive consultation with the local community and an iterative process has led to a preferred option that is both viable and attractive to the market, while ensuring the aims and objectives of the Council are met. As part of the development, the Council has committed to re-providing c. 640 affordable homes under a “one move only” policy.
This process poses substantial funding demands which mean it is essential to enable profitable phases to be brought forward alongside the decant requirement to enable cross subsidy and manage cash-flow. The Council has now carried out the necessary scheme testing, both with local residents and through soft market testing with potential delivery partners, prior to commencing the process of procuring a private sector partner. In the soft market testing undertaken for this development larger developers were particularly interested in the possibilities offered by Bramlands and this added significantly to the attraction of the scheme as a whole. The view was expressed that Bramlands would be used to drive and change values across the whole site. There was further interest in potentially expanding the new housing into other areas, for example the Falcons Estate which would only occur if the Bramlands area was transformed first.
Development of this site is a crucial element of the overall Winstanley and York Road regeneration proposals and the viability of the overall scheme is entirely dependent on the early development of this key site. The Bramlands area has the potential to generate the highest residential values of the whole scheme and the location of Bramlands directly adjacent to Clapham Junction station enables development here to be undertaken at substantially higher densities then elsewhere in the scheme. Consequently it is estimated that 300 plus units could be provided at this location and is a necessary component to enable delivery of the 2,000 + units across the regeneration scheme as well as providing new commercial and cultural facilities which will serve and improve the whole area.
There is a further equally important impact in that transformation of Bramlands is considered to be key to securing the step change in the neighbourhood as a whole and as a consequence crucial to achieving increased viability across the Housing Zone as a whole. Bramlands is at the entrance to the neighbourhood and without change here it will be harder and more problematic to draw higher values across from the south of the railway. It is estimated that this will reduce end values by approximately 15% across the remainder of the scheme.
The Council would like to gain a better understanding of the rationale behind choosing Bramlands as the appropriate land for Safeguarding. The Housing Zone work undertaken to date has identified two alternative sites directly adjacent to the railway line namely the land to the rear of Clapham Junction Station and the Asda/Lidl site. Both these sites contain operational assets and have been considered unlikely to come forward for housing or further development in the short to medium term. As such, these sites may not be encumbered in the immediate sense to safeguarding measures over the coming 10 years. Therefore, it seems these sites provide a potential alternative to the safeguarding of Bramlands, which would ensure housing can come forward at York Road & Winstanley Estates in the short to medium term, meeting the objectives not only of the Housing Zone and the Council, but the aim of Crossrail overall to unlock delivery and service additional housing need.
The Council has had ongoing discussions with Network Rail in regard to their plans both for the refurbishment of the arches on Grant Road but most importantly the expansion of Clapham Junction Station. The Council would like to better understand the connectivity between the wider Network Rail masterplanning/options analysis and the scheduled work streams to progress with the Crossrail 2 plans.
The Council sees a clear need for a joint vision between the Network Rail expansion plans, Crossrail 2 and the bringing forward of housing and regeneration within the proposed Housing Zone. We propose a plan for the area is developed together, ensuring that the optimal proposals both from a transport, housing and overall regeneration perspective are put forward. The varying timescales for delivery of the components make swift collaboration ever more important.
The Council has proposed to form a steering group with the appropriate attendees from all key stakeholders to work up this joint vision in a timeframe that does not pose undue delays to the delivery of housing on Winstanley & York Road Estates or across the proposed Housing Zone as a whole.
Due to the significant and terminal impact that safeguarding of this land as a worksite could have on the long standing regeneration proposals for the whole area and the impact on the provision of substantial amounts of new housing within a Housing Zone, the Council objects in the strongest possible terms to this designation given the clear risks posed to the delivery of housing, regeneration and improvement.
If alternative land is deemed unsuitable, there may be a need to use some of Bramlands for the provision of infrastructure for a new station and a dialogue should be undertaken as soon as possible with TfL and other key stakeholders to identify the infrastructure requirements and assess the potential to plan the new development to allow for this either to be implemented in advance or retrospectively at the point of delivery of Crossrail 2/ overall expansion of Clapham Junction.
Failure to provide certainty on the delivery potential at Bramlands could result insubstantial delays to housing delivery. As such, the Council asks that Barmlands is prioritised such that the impact of safeguarding can be explored jointly over the next 6 months.
Independently of the consideration of the Grand Road/Bramlands site being available for high rise development as intended in plans, we would like Wandsworth Council to stop stating that “The Masterplan has involved extensive consultation with the local community and an iterative process has led to a preferred option […] The Council has now carried out the necessary scheme testing, with local residents [and] the view was expressed that Bramlands would be used to drive and change values across the whole site.” This is misleading at least as at NO TIME has the local area being consulted on the developments of Grant Road/Bramlands, and the public has never been offered any option but a fait-accompli! The view that Bramland could be used for dense and tall buildings is the sole view of Wandsworth Council with NO CONSULTATION.
We would appreciate Wandsworth Council to stop spreading misleading information and for once organise a honest consultation on the basis of a real choice of options for the area, including Grant Road and Bramlands.
The Department for Transport is still safeguarding Grant Road
On March 24th, the government updated plans to protect the proposed route for Crossrail 2 from conflicting development. The updated safeguarded route published extends from Wimbledon in the south-west to Tottenham Hale and New Southgate in the north-east. Under the new Crossrail 2 safeguarding directions, relevant planning applications in safeguarded areas will be referred to TfL for advice. If development interferes with Crossrail 2, either a compromise will be reached or the development will not be allowed.
Following a 10-week consultation (between 20 November 2014 and 29 January 2015), the government and TfL have made some modifications to the proposed safeguarded route, including at Wandsworth Common (to avoid digging a shaft inside the Common land).
While the majority of comments received were opposing the area of surface interest (AOSI) sites on Wandsworth Common and Trinity Fields in Wandsworth (3,728 responses), which explains also that 80% of the total responses (4,038) came from Wandsworth: respondents stressed the importance of these green spaces in their community, it is noticeable that only 1 response expressed concerns regarding Grant Road: the above submission from Wandsworth Council. It speaks for itself on the level of involvement from the local resident, especially when you think than more than 3000 responses were received for other areas in the borough.
Based on the comments made in the consultation, and TfL’s changes to the proposed route, the Secretary of State has decided not to amend the option to safeguard the site at Grant Road/Bramlands for Crossrail2 access to Clapham Junction station.